Third Graders at Aspire Charter School, East Palo Alto, California

Student showing off her self-selected books.

Equity and social justice are inseparable from developing the agency to evaluate and choose your own reading material. The benefits of book joy are immeasurable. A rich reading life that is deeply and personally satisfying is often the key to a healthier, stronger, and more fulfilling life.

Three of our third grade classrooms at Aspire Public School in East Palo Alto—72 children in all—participated in the project.

The children in each of the three classrooms successfully engaged with Bookelicious, created a bookmoji, spent time browsing books, and created a reading wish list from which they chose five books for their home libraries to read and keep. Knowing the value of books in the home, these are books for the children to keep!

Challenges with Covid prevented an in-class book exchange among the  three classrooms and limited our ability to engage with in-school research, observations, and interviews.

But the project succeeded in our meeting our original goals of providing children with book choice, book access and supporting reader agency.

Impact at Aspire

95% of East Palo Alto students are from low-income households, and assessment data indicate that many face challenges with literacy.  Standardized test results reveal that 85% of East Palo Alto 3rd graders fall below grade-level in English language arts. These are the same children who also face unconscionable book scarcity and lack of choice in what they read.

The students in these three classrooms achieved our goal at Bring Me a Book—to exercise reader agency and choice. They assumed the responsibilities of a reader, as they crafted their own reading lives.

Our specific outcomes included children:

Identifying themselves as readers
Exploring their reading tastes and interests
Browsing and sampling a wide range of text
Choosing books that met their specific daily interests and activities
Exploring different authors, genres, and formats
Discussing books with friends
Following reviewers’ recommendations online and in print
Writing reviews of books for their peers
Increasing their reading stamina
Learning to successfully orchestrate the complex skills and strategies of a proficient reader


Aspire East Palo Alto Charter School Dean of Instruction, Jimmy Aguilar wrote:

“The Bring Me a Book project enhanced our literacy goals. We value the joy and love of reading and reading choice. We believe in helping students build a reading identity; we understand the importance of having students see themselves in the books they read and also learn about experiences different from their own. “

Third Grade Teacher, Kimberly Dinh wrote:

“All of my scholars were so ecstatic when they received their books and couldn’t wait to start reading! They were so excited that they even brought their new books with them to read while we were getting our Covid test! Throughout the day, when it was time to read, they were so happy and filled with so much joy to be able to read their new books. It was so wonderful to see their excitement and the way they shared their love for books with their peers. Again, thank you so much for bringing all of this excitement and joy into our scholars’ reading lives!”

Third grader, Graciella:

“Thank you for getting my favorite books! I read them all the time, even at bedtime! I’m writing this note ‘cause I want another book ‘cause I love to read!”

Closing Thoughts

Student enjoying his new book.

These testimonials are evidence of the success of this project and  our goal—to inspire a sustainable reading habit! We expect to see all this and more as the children become more confident and capable readers with enhanced reading and writing proficiency, greater control over advanced vocabulary, and a general ease around books and reading with their new-found sense of themselves as readers.

© 2022 Bring Me a Book